Germany’s Serviceplan Group recently strengthened its position in the US by creating Serviceplan Americas. Andrew O’Dell and P.J. Pereira of the agency Pereira O’Dell – with which Serviceplan already had a partnership – were appointed leaders of the new entity. To add further creative muscle, the group took a minority stake in hotshot agency L&C, which has reaped accolades in the two years since its founding by Peruvian talents Carlo Lanfranco and Rolando Cordova.
To put all this into context, we asked Serviceplan International Managing Partner and Board Director Markus Noder five questions about the group’s US adventures.
You recently announced the completion of the House of Communication Americas. Does that mean all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are in place? Or do you foresee future investments – in Latin America, perhaps?
We now have services in Creative & Content, Media & Data and Platform & Technology in place, with our experts working closely and integrated together. It is a central part of the Serviceplan Group’s strategy to combine these skills under one roof and to provide everything brands need to succeed from a single source.
So completing the House of Communication is a very crucial step for us in the Americas. With it, we have already established an offering in North America, but we now also have a structure in place to expand to South America as well. Our new partner L&C has deep experience in South America and is setting us up very well to expand Serviceplan Group to this new market.
You’ve also founded Plan.Net Americas, the US offshoot of your digital arm. What would you say is its unique offering for the market?
Plan.Net is one of Europe’s most successful digital and data agencies. So Plan.Net Americas has the support of a significant global group for scale. On the other hand, Serviceplan Group is not a network, but an owner-managed agency group. Our partner model gives our Plan.Net leadership in the US a nimble and empowered “founder’s mentality”. This is unique combination which ensures we can react very rapidly and effectively to new digital trends and changes.
Also Jennifer Steele and Todd Thiessen, who lead Plan.Net Americas, are absolute experts in their field. They bring decades of digital experience with them, including working with brands like Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Bank of America, Panasonic, and P&G.
In October 2020, Serviceplan acquired a 30 per cent share of Pereira O’Dell. What made the agency a great fit for Serviceplan?
The US market is arguably one of the most difficult to break into. One very important mantra necessary for success is: “You can’t fake authenticity.” For the Serviceplan Group to make a noise in the United States, a partnership with an already known entity was required to provide the trust needed to believe in our vision. Pereira O’Dell is a proven, known entity for the past 15 years, which is already operating with a leadership team that has a successful track record. Having Pereira O’Dell partner with Serviceplan Group to bring this part of our vision alive is a really major move that sets us apart. From the first moment it clicked between us as Andrew and PJ from Pereira O’Dell are entrepreneurs at heart like us.
When you add incredible talent from the media and digital space with Mediaplus Americas and Plan.Net Americas, whose leaders have also made names for themselves in the United States, you have a really attractive, viable option for clients in the form of a legitimate US offering with the backbone of a global giant.
To complete an action-packed period, you’ve also taken an investment in L&C. A similar question – what made the agency so attractive to the group?
L&C NYC is currently one of the most awarded independent agencies worldwide. Aside from their long list of creative accolades, their impressive growth in just two years has shown that their entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to creativity makes them an ideal partner for Serviceplan Group. L&C was identified as a potential agency partner by PJ Pereira. He first met founders Gian Carlo Lanfranco and Rolando Cordova nearly 20 years ago, while awarding them one of their first Cannes Lions. PJ has been watching their careers ever since.
Do you expect to move to full ownership in the near future?
Serviceplan Group has acquired a minority stake in L&C NYC. This investment is the start of a long term partnership.
Serviceplan Group is the largest independent agency network in Europe. In addition to his role as Managing Partner and Board Member of Serviceplan International, Markus Noder is also Spokesperson and Managing Partner of the Serviceplan Creative Agencies in Germany.